Skip to main content

U.S.: Venezuelan president's plane cleared to enter U.S. airspace

By CNN Staff
September 20, 2013 -- Updated 2238 GMT (0638 HKT)
Venezuelan acting president Nicolas Maduro clenches his fist after he was sworn in, in Caracas, on March 8, 2013.
Venezuelan acting president Nicolas Maduro clenches his fist after he was sworn in, in Caracas, on March 8, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: U.S. official says Venezuelan Embassy confirmed satisfactory resolution
  • A State Department official says the plane was approved to clear U.S. airspace
  • Venezuelan officials had said the U.S. denied permission for their presidential plane

(CNN) -- U.S. officials said Friday that -- contrary to earlier Venezuelan government claims -- the aircraft of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been granted permission to enter U.S. airspace on Maduro's flight to China.

A senior administration official said Friday that the State Department received a message from the Venezuela Embassy's charge de'affaires confirming satisfactory resolution of the issue Thursday night.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said earler Thursday that U.S. officials blocked plans for Maduro's presidential plane to fly through Puerto Rican airspace, with Jaua describing the move as an aggression.

But a State Department official, echoed by other U.S. officials, said Friday that clearance was granted Thursday night for the flight over Puerto Rico.

"Although the request was not properly submitted, U.S. authorities worked with Venezuelan officials at the Venezuelan embassy to resolve the issue," Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman, said.

"U.S .authorities made an extraordinary effort to work with relevant authorities to grant over-flight approval in a matter of hours. As a result we were able to notify the Venezuelan authorities (Thursday) night that permission was granted."

Maduro is scheduled to travel to China on Saturday.

Harf said the request for diplomatic clearance was made sooner than the three days' advance notice required for diplomatic flight clearances.

"Additionally, the plane in question was not a state aircraft, which is required for a diplomatic clearance," Harf added.

"We advised Venezuela on the correct way to get the clearance and notified (Venezuelan) authorities ... that permission was granted."

Before the apparent resolution of the situation, Maduro called the matter "a serious offense" during a broadcast on state television.

Nicolas Maduro marries

The Venezuelan president vowed to take action, adding that the United States had also denied visas for several members of his country's delegation scheduled to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

"If I have to take diplomatic measures against the U.S. government, I will take them to the most drastic level if it is necessary, but I am not going to accept any type of aggression," he said.

A State Department official called the visa issue untrue, saying the United States had approved them.

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet, Elise Labott, Jamie Crawford, Patrick Oppmann and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions and pleaded for U.S. help in interviews with CNN.
Hundreds of jihadis in Syria are from abroad -- which countries have the biggest problem?
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
CNN attends a funeral where mourners keep their distance.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0913 GMT (1713 HKT)
Libyan militia members have apparently turned the abandoned U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, into a water park.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1126 GMT (1926 HKT)
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 0125 GMT (0925 HKT)
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
In a major breach of privacy, a hacker leaked a series of pictures allegedly showing Jennifer Lawrence and other female celebrities in the nude.
Instead of weaving garments sold in the West, children should be in school
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers around the world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT